Make Mass Gains with this Time Saving Cable Only Back Workout

Short on time and need to hit your back? Whether you are a beginner or you are more advanced this program is perfect for you. You can still make gains even if you have a limited amount of time and this routine will give you just that, gains.

For this program all you’ll need is two cable machines and some attachments. Sometimes simplicity works wonders and such is the case with this routine. Even though you will only be using two machines you will be hitting your back from a variety of different angles. With this routine, you will be hitting your lats, middle back, biceps and shoulders.

You can replace your back program with this one and do this program one to two days a week on non- consecutive days. I know you’re in a hurry, so let’s get started. This routine is anything but boring. And it will get you in and out of the gym in no time and it will give you results.

What about warm ups?

If you are new to training, start off with 4 warm up sets. Select a light weight of which you can easily manage to get 10-15 repetitions. Warm ups are just that, warm ups; they should not be too taxing. Once you have sufficiently warmed up there is no need to do warm ups for each new exercise.
*See tips below.

Tips for Warming up

Starting off with the close grip pull down perform 4 sets of 12-15 reps. Complete the warm ups and move on to your working sets. *Note allow 1 minute of rest between your warm up sets. You will have to gauge this as to how you feel, but for most beginners this is sufficient.

* For more advanced lifters you will want to do ramp sets. These sets will warm up your CNS and allow you to move heavier weights.

What are ramp sets?

A ramp set is exactly as it implies, you will be ramping up with the weight. For your warm ups you will gradually increase the weight each set until you get to your working weight. Here’s how to do this. Select a weight that you can easily get 8 reps for. You will do 1 set of 8 resting for 1 minute. You will increase the weight slightly and do 1 set for 6 reps, increasing the weight again and do 1 set of 4 reps.


*Working weight 155 lbs

1×8 85 lbs
1×6 125 lbs
1×4 145 lbs

3×12-15 155 lbs*

Warming up in this fashion will help prepare your CNS for the work ahead. There are a variety of ways to perform ramp sets. If you are going heavier you may choose to include additional ramp sets until you get to the working weight.

What about sets and reps?

For this program you will do 3 sets of 12-15 reps. Once you reach your goal, example 3 sets for 12 reps or 3 sets for 15 reps on each set; you will increase the weight at your next training session.

If you can’t meet the rep goal, don’t get frustrated. Focus on getting an extra rep each session until you meet the rep goal. Each rep will add up and you will get stronger.

Once you meet your rep goal, add more weight. The key to growth lies in progression. Your goal should always be progression.

This program looks simplistic, but if you focus on progression you will make some serious gains. Focus on a solid 3 sets per exercise. Don’t go overboard and add extra unneeded sets; you will be less likely to give it your all. Three sets of each exercise is sufficient. Again, focus on getting an extra rep or increasing the weight at each session. This is your key to growth.

How long do I need to rest between exercises and sets?

These exercises will pack on mass. As you get stronger and increase the amount of weight you are using, you may need a longer rest period. I would suggest resting 60-90 seconds between sets and 3 minutes between exercises. You may need to rest a little longer between exercises.

How do I perform the exercises?

*Here is a brief description.

Close Grip Pull Down-Grab the close grip bar and attach it to the lat pull down machine. Use a ‘hook’ grip to take some of the work off your forearms. To do the ‘hook’ grip don’t wrap your thumbs around the bar, just form a hook with your hands. This works great with straps. Look forward, keeping your elbows close to your sides and pull the bar to your chest. Slowly return to the starting position.

Seated Cable Row (close grip)-Take the close grip bar and attach it to the machine, palms face in and keep your elbows close to your sides. Make sure to keep your knees slightly bent, chest high, and back straight, pull the attachment towards your belly button. Make sure to contract your shoulder blades, squeeze and pause before returning to the start position.

Seated Row (wide grip)-Take a lat pull down bar and attach it to the rowing station. Again make sure to keep your knees slightly bent, chest high, and back straight.  Take a wide overhand grip on the bar, elbows pointing out, pull the bar to the upper chest this time and squeeze, before slowly returning to the start position.

Wide Grip Pull Downs-Attach the wide grip bar to the lat pull down machine. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, approximately shoulder width apart. Sit down, making sure your thighs are secure in the machine. Keep your back straight and eyes straight ahead. Pull the bar down to your clavicle while keeping the elbows back, pause and slowly return to the start position.

  • Close Grip Pull Down 3 sets 12-15 reps
  • Seated Cable Row (close grip) 3 sets 12-15 reps
  • Seated Row (wide grip) 3 sets 12-15 reps
  • Wide Grip Pull Down 3 sets 12-15 reps


  1. You can get in and out of the gym quickly with this routine. That’s the beauty of it. Don’t go adding extra sets to it.
  2. If you want to do this routine and have a little extra time you could hit your biceps.
  3. Keep an eye on the clock, but make sure you are well enough rested to hit the next set.
  4. Get a good pair of lifting straps.

Have you tried this workout? We would love to hear from you. Let us know in the comment section below.


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